Detection of Error-Related Negativity in Complex Visual Stimuli: A New Neuroergonomic Arrow in the Practitioner’s Quiver

Brain processes responsible for the error-related negativity (ERN) evoked response potential (ERP) have historically been studied in highly controlled laboratory experiments through presentation of simple visual stimuli. The present work describes the first time the ERN has been evoked and successfully detected in visual search of complex stimuli. A letter flanker task and a motorcycle conspicuity task were presented to participants during electroencephalographic (EEG) recording. Direct visual inspection and subsequent statistical analysis of the resultant time-locked ERP data clearly indicated that the ERN was detectable in both groups. Further, the ERN pattern did not differ between groups. Such results show that the ERN can be successfully elicited and detected in visual search of complex static images, opening the door to applied neuroergonomic use. Harnessing the brain’s error detection system presents significant opportunities and complex challenges, and
implication of such are discussed in the context of human-machine systems.

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